Paycheck Chronicles

Little Splurges Can Help You Live Large

Sometimes, simple (and inexpensive) things can really make a big impact on your life.  It might be a new pillow, a fantastic travel mug, or a new lipstick - small and affordable can still be fabulous.

I was mulling over this subject last night as we drove from Florida to Maryland.  Before starting, I stopped at the local auto parts store to replace the passenger's side windshield wiper blade.  It was torn and was doing a lousy job of cleaning the window.  I did two things that were splurgy - first, I bought a slightly more expensive replacement blade.  Second, I went ahead and replaced the "still working OK but not amazing" driver's side blade.

As it turned out, it rained a lot during our trip, and every time I turned on the windshield wipers, I was thrilled with the really good job that they did.  Plus, they were super-quiet.  The difference was so significant that one of the kids in the third row noticed and said, "Hey, did you replace the windshield wipers?"

As it turned out, I obviously did need to replace both blades, but I'm still going to count that as a extravagance of about $20.  And the premium brand was about $10 more than the bargain brand, for both blades.  (They were on sale.)  Wiper blades are supposed to last six to twelve months, so let's (very) conservatively say that I just spent an extra $5 per month to get really nice wiper blades.  Consider than I spend at least 15 hours per week driving, and I've added  less than 10 cents per driving hour to my transportation costs.  That's pretty darn cheap for something that makes me smile and adds to our safety.

Look around your life and try to identify a few small changes that would dramatically improve the quality of your life without big costs.  Then, see if you can find a way to make those changes happen.  Making life a little happier is always a nice thing, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

I'm trying to brainstorm a list of small changes that might have a big impact.  What ideas could improve your life?

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